Updated: Aug 8, 2021
Recipes and Stories from the Island of Sardinia
Hardie Grant books, 2019, £ 26.00
Letitia or Letizia with at least three large Z in Sardinia, is a young English woman, food writer, illustrator and professional chef that moved to Sardinia from London in 2017.
I am glad I found her on Instagram thank to some common friends.
Following her has been a bridge to my homeland in these two long years, the longest time ever I am not visiting home since I moved to Glasgow in 2014.
Her recipes, her pictures of the most remote areas of Sardinia made me feel less nostalgic and made me appreciate my island through her eyes.
Her book is not only a recipe book. It is a great one, where you can find all the most famous Sardinian home recipes. They are featured with her personal touch, with her effort to understand the culture, to understand what is behind it.
You can feel the deep breath Letitia took to immerse her self in the never ending lunches, in the old rituals of mothers and grandmothers cooking, in the daily slow routine impossible to change, in the magic and peculiar world Sardinia is crystallised in.
She perfectly describes the core element that makes special and so loved the Italian cuisine, Sardinian one included, and she made clear it resides in its simplicity. You could think that the presence of fancy sounding ingredients can make a plate unforgettable.
Probably it will, but never like a plate of pasta with a tomato sauce made with only three ingredients or a slice of warm bread with butter and anchovies or a raw artichokes eaten with olive oil and salt or some pane carasau with pecorino cheese and sausage with a gassosa.
Bitter Honey masterfully reflects every aspect of Sardinian life and that is the reason I find it so true and realistic. It is not selling the usual image of the island, all focused on beaches and VIPs in the summer time, but it is telling about the rest of it, its immense yellow lands, the little villages, the ancient traditions, the fiery and welcoming attitude of its people.
Letitia did all of this with the love that is coming from the discovery, with a magistral class, listening to the multiple and complex voices of the Sardinian millennial history.
I felt hugely represented in her narrative and laugh from time to time while reading some anecdotes or calling Alvaro my partner when I found some spots or things that I love to repeat like telling that there are no artichokes like the Sardinian one or "come here and see this, it is how we do" or "this is the place we'll go on holiday" or "look this is how butchers and bakeries are".
The book is divided in eight chapters that consider the time aspects like aperitivo and merenda and the organisation of the food in Grano, Terra, Mare, Verdure and Dolci & Bevande, where you will find lot of recipes based on this division plus an explanation and an index of the ingredients mostly used in La Cucina Sarda.
A special mention is for the photography, never ordinary, but always focused in finding precious details, like the traditional baskets hung in the wall, the white tablecloths with lace, the used wood tables and the colourful shops and places.
If you want to discover Sardinian food and Sardinia through it, this is a book to have, read and use.
The recipes are simple to make and almost all ingredients are available in UK supermarkets and if not they are available on Internet or in the numerous Italian deli we are lucky to have in the country.
Also, follow Letitia on her Instagram account not to miss her illustration, her dog Besciamella and the amazing food she cooks.